ConnectWise's acquisition by Thoma Bravo three weeks ago threw up many questions for MSPs. In particular there were concerns about pricing, levels of service and, more broadly, what the future held for the MSP vendor.
But Mike Ritsema, president and partner at i3 Business Solutions, offers a different perspective. The Grand Rapids, MI-based MSP told CPI in an interview that vendor mergers and acquisitions can offer MSPs a means to tackle the complexity of security.
"I think we're all keeping our ear to the ground on vendor mergers and acquisitions, because as part of delving into the security offerings that are out there, the challenge for MSPs is handling too many dashboards.
"If I have a firewall - and we manage 80 firewalls - I've got a dashboard for my firewalls. I can log in to my office 365 dashboard for all my customers; I can log in to my RMM dashboard for all my customers, and if I put in a security solution, that now gives me a fourth dashboard. And then I also have my ConnectWise service ticketing dashboard, so now I'm up to five or six dashboards.
"M&A is interesting because if three of these companies are suddenly all together and I'm working with two of them, that makes the third one really logical."
Ritsema notes that being a Continuum and ConnectWise partner makes the Thoma Bravo acquisition a "good thing" for him because it offers the potential for the relationship between the two vendors to tighten.
"If a merger happens and technology starts to merge and we go to fewer dashboards or better integration, that's a good thing," he said.
The MSP also sees security as an area MSPs should be attuned to in 2019. Ritsema notes that for all MSPs, having some level of security focus is a fundamental part of the job. As such, i3 will be rolling out its tier-two security offering at the end of Q1, which will be an "extensive" undertaking.
This will be added to i3's "fundamental" security delivery of backup, antivirus, updating operating systems, firewalls and a DNS protection layer in order to tackle the ever-changing threat landscape, Ritsema said.
However, on the subject of whether all MSPs need to be building out a stronger security offering of this nature in order to survive, Ritsema is not so sure. It depends very heavily on the verticals you're serving, as well as customer choice, he noted, adding that while there's an assumption that all businesses want to be strapped up as tightly as possible when it comes to security in 2019, in reality, there are those businesses for whom it's less important than others.
"We have a customer that is a completely cloud-based organization and they're in an industry that they readily admit that if they lost their customers' information, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Some businesses out there accept the risk and just ask for basic backups - they're not a bank, they're not a healthcare organization, they're not the federal government. There are some simple companies out there that have basic information who want you to just protect them and they'll take the risk. There's a place for that."
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